Planning a relaxing Memorial Day weekend? Looking forward to unwinding on the couch and catching a full menu of sports? Well how about an exhilarating soccer tripleheader to keep you company this Saturday?
At 4 p.m. PT the Portland Timbers face D.C. United in our nation’s capital. At 7 p.m. PT the Portland Thorns FC take on rival Seattle Reign FC in Tukwila, WA. But before all of the excitement begins for the Portland sides, there is one game that the soccer community will surely be tuned in for: the UEFA Champions League Final.
Saturday’s final marks the end of the 58th Champions League season, a tournament with some very intriguing storylines. The final will be contested between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund; marking the first time the Champions League has seen an all-German final. Chelsea became the first defending champions to be eliminated during group stage. Dortmund's Mario Götze has been purchased by Bayern and will play for them next season. He is injured for the final and will not play for Dortmund. Perhaps the most intriguing story, however, will be the David vs. Goliath tone to the final matchup.
Bayern Munich, a perennial Bundesliga powerhouse, will be making their tenth Champions League final appearance, winning in 1974, 1975, 1976, and 2001. This will be Borussia Dortmund’s second final, having won in 1997.
Bayern may be the single most loved and hated German club at the same time. The team spends a hefty sum on acquiring the top talent in order to remain atop the table year in and year out. Dortmund, on the other hand, almost went bankrupt in 2005. They saved themselves by reallocating all of their resources to youth development and scouting, much to the pleasure of their fanatical support base.
The two German clubs will faceoff at Wembley Stadium tomorrow at 11 a.m. PT on FOX. You can also hit up the KICKTV Google Hangout over at www.kicktv.com. As a little bonus, here’s some of Dortmund’s tifo from earlier in the tournament:
With the U.S. Men's National Team busy preparing for their World Cup Qualifier against Costa Rica tomorrow night (7pm PT, ESPN), KICKTV has put together this very nice primer on just what the Hexagonal is. In short, it's the long and difficult pathway for CONCACAF teams to qualify for the World Cup.
Elsewhere in the Hex, Timbers forward Ryan Johnson and goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts go to battle for Jamaica as they take on Panama in Kingston on Friday evening at 6:30pm PT. Updates throughout the match can be found via the Jamaican Football Federation's Twitter feed @ItsTheJFF.
Over in Africa, Futty Danso joined the Scorpions of The Gambia National Team for a World Cup qualifier on Saturday against Ivory Coast. In a tune-up friendly this week against Niger, Danso scored the second goal in a 3-1 win.
Also in action tomorrow is Timbers midfielder Will Johnson whose Canadian Men's National Team is in Qatar for a friendly against Japan.
Good afternoon from the Doha Sports City in Qatar. The facilities are immaculate. twitter.com/WillJohnson04/…
— Will Johnson (@WillJohnson04) March 19, 2013
Follow @CanadaSoccerEN for updates tomorrow beginning at 9am PT.
Earlier this week, US Soccer announced the new head coach for the USWNT in Tom Sermanni. Taking over from the Olympic winning and team favorite Pia Sundhage, Sermanni has a tall order to keep the USWNT at the peak of women's global soccer. He spoke to USsoccer.com about taking over the team.
And while Sermanni is the coach, for a short while, KICKTV's Jimmy Conrad claimed to be in charge of the team:
While Alex Morgan is no stranger to joking around, it appears at the beginning of the video that she may have bought into the ruse for just a moment.
The actual USWNT will be coming to Portland on Nov. 28 to host the Republic of Ireland in a friendly at JELD-WEN Field. US Soccer announced their ticket pricing information earlier this week and the presale starts today. Neither Conrad nor Sermanni will be at the helm when the team is here, however, as US Soccer women's development director Jill Ellis will fill in in the interim.
By now, you've seen Off Pitch with Hermes. If you haven't, catch up. You may also be somewhat aware that Jimmy Conrad was here for the last time we played Seattle interviewing Merritt Paulson, chainsawing, joining the Timbers Army, going to Kicking + Screening Portland, and podcasting with the Backcut.
What you may not know is that somehow KICKTV got Hermes and Conrad together for a unique Portland mashup all about soccer in Oregon and the importance of Cascadia.
Here's the weird, wonderful and magical result:
The last time around we faced Seattle, the Portland Timbers helped host a unique event known as the Kicking + Screening Film Festival. Set to the theme of rivalry, K+S Portland had films exploring the USA-Mexico rivalry, the long battles between Boca Juniors and River Plate in Buenos Aires, panels with directors, producers and our own Mike Fucito--who has been on both sides of the Portland-Seattle divide--and much more.
Missed this one? Never fear. Rumors abound that K+S will return in 2013. Moreover, you can have your own mini K+S Festival courtesy of KICKTV as they stream online the full versions of The Ref (El Árbitro), about the daily life of a soccer refereem and FC Barcelona Confidential, a film with unprecedented look into the first season of president Joan Laporta's reign as president at the Spanish giant.
You may have noticed the flood of videos on YouTube from a channel called KICKTV. They have quick summaries of footy related news on The Mixer, compilations of all the goals in a week, a show all about soccer equipment called The Gear Show, there's looks into interesting online soccer video clips calle The Whip, and much more.
Perhaps one of the more visible people of this new soccer online channel is host Jimmy Conrad. Conrad, a former MLS All-Star, World Cup veteran for the U.S. national team and one-day member of Real Madrid, takes questions from fans, talks about the sport, and is their go-to guy to go on the road and dig into the interesting fun elements around the culture of soccer. The first big trip they sent him on was Euro 2012 whereupon he watched games in public squares with throngs of Polish fans, played pick up games in farm fields, and gave a unique perspective into the massive tournament.
Most recently, Conrad was in Portland interviewing Merritt Paulson, learning how to chainsaw, attending the Kicking + Screening Film Festival, and becoming a member of the Timbers Army at the huge Portland-Seattle Cascadia Cup rivalry match.
In the inaugural edition of The Backcut Podcast, I sat down with man-about-town Conrad to learn about what exactly the new YouTube soccer channel KICKTV is, why it matters to soccer fans, and how Jimmy got involved with it.
The Backcut Podcast sits at the intersection of Timbers, soccer & culture to explore the unique elements of the beautiful game. You can subscribe to The Backcut on iTunes in the same feed as the Talk Timbers podcast.
Watch them all. Then go vote for Danny Mwanga's second strike to win MLS Goal of the Week.
Perhaps the biggest moment of all was Conrad actually attending the Cascadia Cup showdown between the Timbers and Seattle Sounders at JELD-WEN Field on Saturday. There were bagpipes, there was facepaint, there was yelling and as part of his indoctrination to the experience, Conrad became a full fledged member of the Timbers Army, No Pity scarf and all.